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Budgeting, employment

How to Afford Childcare Post-Lockdown

On Behalf of Veitengruber Law | Jul 29,2021

Childcare in the US is an ever-increasing expense for parents who work. During the COVID crisis and the statewide shutdown, many New Jersey parents found themselves working from home trying to balance parenting with working. Now, as more restrictions are lifted every day, mothers and fathers are back to commuting to an office. For many, the renewed expense of childcare can seem jarring—especially if your income has been reduced or you experienced a long period of unemployment due to the shutdown. The good news is that there are some things you can do to alleviate the cost of childcare as you return to work.

1.   Check Your Employee Benefits

Many companies have begun offering childcare options as a way to incentivize potential employees to come work with them. Does your office building have a childcare center? Does your employer offer discounts? Some companies will even pay for summer camps or after school programs for school-aged kids.

2.   Look Into Alternating Schedules

If you and your partner both work, see if it is possible to arrange alternating schedules with your respective employers. With one of you always home, you can avoid childcare costs all together. This option may be more realistic than before as employers are willing to be more flexible concerning working hours post-pandemic.

3.   Childcare Co-ops and Nanny Shares

Other parents are in the same situation you are. A childcare co-op is a group of parents that know and trust each other who choose to provide childcare for the children of the parents in the group. You can work out a schedule and ensure that one parent from each household is available to watch the group's children each day of the week. This childcare is free since you are all pitching in, but you would have to ensure at least one working day off of work a week. Nanny shares are similar, but instead of taking turns watching the children yourself, you would split the cost of a childcare worker amongst a group of parents. This is a great option for parents with similar schedules or those who do not require full-time daycare.

4.   State Programs

New Jersey offers childcare assistance funded through the federal government. There are specific eligibility requirements you must meet and funding can vary depending on where you live. You can visit the Child Care Aware of America website and search for your zip code for contact information for the Child Care Resource and Referral Center in your area. They will be able to inform you of local programs and how to find reliable childcare within your budget.

5.   Head Start

Early Head Start and Head Start are two federal programs geared towards offering low-income families care and development resources for their children. This program covers children from birth to five years old. You must meet specific eligibility requirements to be considered.

Finding the best solution for you will depend a lot on your schedule, how flexible your employer is, and what options are specifically available to you in your area.  

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